Written by AMBER ALLEN
All of us have heard millions of times to get involved in student organizations. How do we choose from the hundreds available? How many is enough to give us experience but leave room for academics and a social life?
WHY JOIN A STUDENT ORGANIZATION?
We are at a university with thousands of organizations that participate in activities that some of us have probably never heard of. This may be our only chance to take advantage of them. Many of the students at UT are in an unfamiliar environment in an unfamiliar city. Through these organizations, students are able to get involved in something that they enjoy and meet people who enjoy it also. Student organizations are a great way to make lifelong friends on campus.
Also, professional schools love to see variety in a student’s application. Showing interests and commitment in different fields not only shows responsibility but also aptitude and resourcefulness. College is the perfect time to try something new.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
The first thing to do is to think about your interests. Run through the hobbies you enjoyed in high school, your professional career goals, and skills you have always wanted to learn. There is probably a student organization at this university that can fit those desires. Common campus organizations feature academic departments, recreation, spirit, service, politics, or culture. There are also student government organizations, including a council for every college. These councils are responsible for representing the students in the college and making sure the students’ concerns are heard and the college’s opportunities are promoted. You can find a list of all of the different organizations in each category at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sa/vieworgs.php.
WHERE DO I LOOK?
At the beginning of each semester there are organization fairs outside of the Flawn Academic Center (FAC), in front of Gregory Gym (the plaza), and in the student activity center (SAC) ballroom. There are usually fliers advertising these events all over campus. However, you can also look them up online at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu. Another way to find organizations is at Hornslink
(https://utexas.collegiatelink.net). Here, UT students can fill out information about themselves and find organizations that match their interests. Hornslink will also keep track of the organizations you have joined for later resume use and is a great way to share events, documents, and log in service hours for your organization.
HOW MANY SHOULD I JOIN?
It is hard to go around all those decorated tables at organization fairs and not sign every single join list. I’m here to tell you that it is completely okay! Signing a list cannot do very much harm. Usually it’s not a commitment—it just means you will receive their emails. This is actually beneficial if you decide that the organization is not for you right now but you want to join in the future, because you can still receive emails from them.
Nevertheless, most advisors say that getting involved in about five clubs is a good number. Of course this is completely dependent on how much time you have. Getting a job and family life can impact the number of organizations a student can take on. However, professional schools prefer to see heavy involvement in a few organizations rather than little involvement in many. This is why many sources have come to the conclusion of five as a central number.
Remember, deciding to join a club does not mean that you are bound to it forever. If you feel that you have overextended yourself then let the club officers know and withdraw from the organization.